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nicholas bonham-carter

nicholas bonham-carter

Joined on November 24, 2007

Last Post on August 26, 2014

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Recent Posts

radiator vents

@ June 26, 2011 3:27 PM in Radiator vents

what leads you to believe the vents you have need replacement?
in a 1-pipe system, it is the main,[not radiator] vents which do most of the air evacuation. if you are having balance problems, i suggest you replace/increase the main vents on the dry returns. high pressure can also interfere with the venting.
if you could post some pictures of the vents you have, we could better advise you.--nbc

also in pingyao, china

@ June 20, 2011 11:23 PM in What kind of solar is this ?

just came back from china, where every roof had such solar collectors!
other interesting plumbing photos will follow soon!--nbc

new boiler choices

@ June 19, 2011 1:31 PM in need help in deciding which boiler

you could certainly change over to hot water, however the old system piping may leak when the 25 psi hits pipes and rads that were only used to seeing 1.5 psi! some old steam rads are only for steam, and will not work with hot water. it's safer to replace the piping and radiators while you are at it, if you go down this route. 
will the new savings justify the extra cost? remember steam systems need no extra electricity for pumping water around, and if properly vented [main line, not radiator], with just ounces of pressure, can deliver comfortable, economical heat.--nbc

replacing a steam boiler

@ June 19, 2011 9:19 AM in need help in deciding which boiler

it is wise to do a survey of the connected radiation in your building before selecting a replacement boiler. the previous boiler may not have been sized right. make sure the new boiler is piped as the manufacturer instructs,  no matter how the old  one was piped .
the efficiency of the boiler can be a lot less if incorrectly installed, especially if the main venting and pressure are incorrect.--nbc

one wet boiler

@ June 18, 2011 7:17 PM in Wet Steam From One boiler

could one be running at a higher pressure than the other?--nbc

thermostatic radiator controls

@ June 13, 2011 6:49 PM in Steam Valve Radiator Thermostat - Any Good?

if your system is well maintained, these valves [trv's] can even out the hot spots in your system. they must not be installed on a radiator next to the thermostat. they will not do a good job of compensating for inadequate main [not rad] venting.
is your system 1-pipe or 2-pipe, as the valves used vary depending on application.
if your system was installed/sized correctly in the beginning, simple corrections may restore it to more even operation, however, if changes to the structure/room layout have been made, then trv's may be a help where an over-sized radiator now exists in a now-smaller room.--nbc

zoning a steam boiler

@ May 20, 2011 11:30 PM in multiple light commercial boilers

one way that could be done with one boiler, would be with the steam section handling the main area, and a hot-water loop off the boiler handling the less used area, properly controlled.
usually this sort of steam-zoning plan is hatched as a result of high fuel bills--not as a result of steam being so inefficient, but because of lack of maintenance making the system burn more fuel. zoning a steam system has some hurdles to overcome.
if this steam system is properly surveyed for edr, and condition, and corrected, i imagine the bills will be less.--nbc

while you are waiting

@ May 18, 2011 9:36 AM in Steam Heat Experts in the upstate NY area?

why not post some pictures here of the boiler piping, and the radiators, including any piping/valves,etc. any faulty previous installation may be identified first.
is the system functioning well now? the radiators should all heat evenly with no hammering,
have you tried the "find a pro" button at the top of this page?--nbc

efficiency--old versus new

@ May 18, 2011 12:51 AM in Old Kewanee for repair

probably the design of the fire-tube boiler has not changed that much since the mid 1900's. only the burner technology has really changed, and is now getting more btu's out of the therm of fuel. hence the lack of difference of fuel economy between the old kewanee and the new boiler.--nbc

venting a riser

@ May 15, 2011 9:29 PM in combination Tee and gate valve

how tall is this riser? before you go to all that trouble, i would suggest a gorton "d" on the top radiator, and hoffman 40's on the lower levels. of course the horizontal main to dry return must be also thoroughly vented with gorton #2's.
you will know when you have enough main venting by looking at the back-pressure, during the venting phase, on your good low-pressure gauge. add main vents until the pressure gets down to a few ounces.--nbc

a nice 2-pipe vapor system radiator

@ May 15, 2011 4:09 PM in leaking steam radiator

that is worth saving!
can you take some more pictures of the threaded rods which appear to hold the sections together?--nbc

mouldy tank

@ May 15, 2011 12:18 PM in glycol feeder and mold

looks like the sort of mould you only see once, and then you die.
there must have been something organic in that mix to grow that in this instance.--nbc

rad repair

@ May 15, 2011 12:09 PM in leaking steam radiator

first determine from where the leak comes, and like a leaking roof, it can be difficult to pinpoint the errant joint. if it is the air vent on a 1-pipe system rad, then the fix is simple. like the air vent, a leaking valve packing nut could be repacked with graphite string; however a bad nipple between the sections would be more difficult to repair. it may be easier to find another radiator of a similar size, and replace it, including a new valve, and spud. make sure the valve is completely open, so as not to collect water.
some people have been able to use automotive stop-leak with some success.--nbc

tripping over a super-eight

@ May 15, 2011 10:22 AM in 10" plug removal

this listing is an example, and it did not sell!--nbc

pressure gauge

@ May 13, 2011 12:08 AM in Vaporstat in a Vacuum system

if you can find some mercury, you could make a manometer which would handle the range of pressures, from negative to positive.--nbc

monster wrench

@ May 12, 2011 8:35 PM in 10" plug removal

it will probably take the cap off the 8 in. long nipple, but i agree, that it needs a proper length of pipe or fitting to get a grip.
i haven't looked lately, but i would bet there is at least one on ebay now; however the shipping could be a bear!--nbc

the magic of ebay

@ May 12, 2011 3:33 PM in 10" plug removal

it's 8 in, and the postage was more than the cost of the wrench on ebay!
i figure it may be handy when it comes time to take the nipples out of the bottom of the peerless to clean out any mud!--nbc


@ May 11, 2011 11:53 PM in 10" plug removal

that rigid wrench looks a bit light:--nbc
i think an older design looks better:

melting time

@ May 10, 2011 6:44 PM in snow melt

how long will it take to melt 4 inches of snow off your driveway when the air temperature is 20 degrees
if you have a system with light heat output such as electric, then would it take a lot longer than say the 150 btu hydronic snow-melt
what are these idle costs. a little constant circulation? surely the system will not be using much energy until it snows.--nbc

replacing a boiler

@ May 10, 2011 1:59 PM in Peerless vs. WM for steam?

we have a peerless 211a 1,050,000 btu for approximately your size house, and it uses the rubber gaskets. i had misgivings, but so far so good.
more importantly it is how the boiler is installed rather than what make it is. following the mfg's installation instructions should give you good dry steam.
put plenty of venting on [1 have 17 gorton #2's], and a vaporstat so that the air in my system escapes with a low back-pressure [2 ounces!].--nbc

extreme vacuum system

@ May 7, 2011 5:10 AM in Vaporstat in a Vacuum system

firstly, i would make sure that your gauge, and all of its readings are correct. the -15 psi sounds like the vacuum of deep space! how long is that vacuum maintained, between cycles? if the gauge is the same age as the rest of the system, then i would suspect the bourdon tube to be work-hardened and inaccurate. if the vacuum never persists until the next cycle, then you may want to drop the vacuum features and go with positive pressure, ample main-line venting, etc.
don't forget to measure the high pressure as well. a ball valve isolating the new gauge may be necessary to protect it in the vacuum phase.
if your boiler has been sized correctly, then it may never reach an excessively high pressure. --nbc

copper pipe towel warmer

@ May 6, 2011 8:09 PM in copper panel radiator

the towel warmer may not have the thermal mass of a cast-iron radiator; and if the bathroom has any air leaks, it may be chilly!
maybe if the copper pipes could be filled with other smaller dia. copper pipes, it would retain more heat by virtue of it's additional mass.
you could try an experiment by making a double upright out of copper, just to see if the heat output is satisfactory.--nbc